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July 12, 2022
An old coworker of mine who was quite mercurial.
On any given morning, you never knew if he was going to walk in the office on a high or on a low. It all depended on a series of external factors like weather, traffic, news, wakeup time, the amount of coffee he drank, and the type of strangers he encountered on the subway.
But like clockwork, he marched in at nine o’clock and spent the first few minutes of his day regaling the team with stories and feelings and opinions about how he wanted to remake the world to match his preferences.
It was definitely entertaining, but ultimately exhausting. Made me want to grab him by the sideburns and say, dude, you need to decide that you’re in charge of your own mood.
Stop delegating that decision to chance. Tell yourself a better story, even if it’s not true. Because you’re stressing the rest of us out.
Have you ever worked with that personality? Are you the one with that personality?
If so, then perhaps you are trying to remake the world to match your expectations of it, rather than adjusting your narrative to cope with your experience of it.
Point being, that’s the only thing we can really control in this life. The story we tell ourselves.
It doesn’t even have to be a true story. Honesty isn’t always the best policy, especially when it comes to our own happiness. Sometimes we have to trick ourselves into liking things we don’t really like, in order to instill better habits. Sometimes we have to say things to ourselves that are completely imaginary, because we know those stories will have the desired positive effect on our behavior.
The good news is, you can adjust your inner monologue to cope with your experience of life. There are mindset tools to help program you for higher levels of fulfillment. Here are two that help me.
Compartmentalization is when you make concessions about undesirable work to develop a more sustainable relationship with yourself.
For example, say you work a job whose clients are large corporations that celebrate materialism and encourage senseless consumer spending. That may disgust you, and that’s okay. Because at the same time, that job also allows you to put food on the table for your family and underwrite your meaningful extracurricular art projects.
Use that narrative, and your experience of going to work will shift.
Another mindset tool is called unrushing, which is building a narrative around your priorities that supports and enhances an overall experience of fulfillment and calm.
The way it works is, you catch yourself any time you complain about not having enough time, or needing to catch up on anything. Don’t beat yourself up for those thoughts, rather, counter them with positive incantations about abundance and peace.
You have plenty of time to do everything you want to do. What you’ve done is enough and you are okay with where you are.
Sound cheesy? Maybe, but would you rather feel cheesy or feel anxious? Would you rather feel in control of your energy or at the mercy of external forces? It’s your call.
Remember, a narrative is nothing more than a story to understand a situation.
Use it as a weapon, and you’ll increase your probability of good outcomes.
Are you trying to remake the world to match your expectations of it, or trying to adjust your narrative to cope with your experience of it?